Bring a Living Lab to Your School

7th graders at Lawrence Middle School in Falmouth placing the wetland liner

Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary invites schools across Massachusetts to participate in our Living Lab Wetland Project by building a wetland on their campus!

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The creation takes one day to complete and requires the use of an excavator. The construction will be led by Tom Biebighauser of Wetland Restoration and Training LLC and Ian Ives of Mass Audubon.

Creation of a Living Lab Wetland on Campus

Students and teachers would participate in the design and construction of the wetland, utilizing science engineering and math STEM components.  Prior to the creation of the wetland, students would be introduced to the project and wetland ecology through an in school presentation provided by Mass Audubon. 

By creating a Living Lab, students will:

  • Ian Ives shows student how to measure the depth
    Determine soil texture using a soil auger and the ribbon test
  • Determine elevation of groundwater using a soil auger
  • Measuring slope using a laser level and a clinometer
  • Measuring distance using a range finder and an imperial and metric tape measure
  • Using laser level to record elevations
  • Learning how to mark circles, ovals, rectangles, and irregular shapes on the ground using survey equipment
  • Identification and control of nonnative invasive plants
  • Planting and seeding of native plants for pollinators
  • Use Best Management Practices to control soil erosion
  • Loosening compacted soils for plant growth and water percolation using shovels and rakes
  • Learning when soil compaction is good and when it is bad

Additional Education Programs

Mass Audubon can offer educational programming to students before and after construction centered around conservation biology, field biology techniques, vernal pool ecology, and vernal pool certification for a reasonable price.

Wildlife and Water Quality Monitoring

  • Student holding salamanders at a Living Lab Wetland
    Amphibian, avian, invertebrate, botanical water quality monitoring for multiple grade levels after the wetlands are built.
  • Pitfall trapping, aquatic traps and dip netting for surveying invertebrate and amphibian use of wetlands
  • Audio and video monitoring and egg mass surveys to census amphibian reproductive activity
  • Wetland plant surveying using quadrats
  • Cover-board monitoring in surrounding uplands
  • Water monitoring using water testing equipment
  • Vernal pool certification

Estimated Cost per School Wetland

The cost of bringing a wetland to your school runs between $8,000 and $10,000 based on project variables.

Curriculum-based Educational Opportunities (All Grade Levels)

Mass Audubon offers additional educational programs to students before and after construction centered on conservation biology, field biology techniques, vernal pool ecology, and vernal pool certification for a reasonable price.

At the Elementary Level, this can include:

  • Bat Roosting Boxes: Two rocket-style bat roosting boxes placed near the wetland to improve educational opportunities relating to these often misunderstood mammals. The boxes may be mounted on 2-inch diameter steel pipes for longevity. The rocket bat box design is very successful. Materials cost approximately $100/box.
  • Nest Boxes: Building and placing nest boxes for cavity-nesting birds would improve wildlife viewing and educational opportunities around the school. Six or more boxes may be built and with materials costing around $5/box.
  • Track Station: Students can discover what wildlife species visit wetlands by examining tracks left on a tracking station. A tracking station is like a small sandbox, only it is built level with the elevation of surrounding ground.

Middle and High School-level lesson plans could focus on:

  • Identifying the species of aquatic animals best suited to colonize new ponds and those that are most poorly suited.
  • Discovering if natural communities tend to exist in equilibrium or do they tend to change over time.
  • Finding out how the creation or manipulation of natural habitat can be used for conservation purposes.


For more information on the Living Lab Wetland Project, please contact Sanctuary Director Ian Ives by email or call 508-362-7475 x9350.